Greek life meets Dance Marathon with philanthropic efforts year after year
The philanthropic efforts of greek life organizations at Rutgers do not stop short of Dance Marathon. Each year, these fraternities and sororities are some of the main contributors to the more than $1 million that Dance Marathon has collected this year and last.
Jennie Perullo, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and Zeta Tau Alpha member, and Megan Velona, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and Gamma Phi member, were two students out of the thousands of in attendance on Saturday night.
“We’re actually family friends from home and we’re in different organizations but our little cousin passed away from cancer so we’re here for her,” Perullo said.
The girls emphasized how important it is that Rutgers hosts events like Dance Marathon instead of just fundraising and donating the money to the Embrace Kids Foundation.
Velona said that standing on her feet for hours on end is a challenge that is necessary to go through to try and understand the struggles that some of the children from the foundation go through every day.
“It kind of shows us the little things we take for granted every day, like, as much as sitting. Because some of these kids, every single day, every single second is hard for them, so it's good for us to all come together and do something that’s hard for us,” Velona said.
Perullo added that fundraising was a challenging experience as well.
“I canned, that’s a humbling experience in itself. I stood in front of a ShopRite a half an hour away from Rutgers, by myself in the cold in February and I canned for this event. I raised half my total and my friends from different schools donated to me because they knew how much this meant to me,” she said.
Alex Arnold, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and a brother in Alpha Epsilon Pi, came out to the event as well and discussed its meaning.
“This is our third year in a row doing (Dance Marathon). We just got back on campus and we really wanted to go all in and participate in the marathon," Arnold said.
He said he wanted to clear up misconceptions about the event and its purpose.
Dance Marathon is incredible, he said. A lot of people have misconceptions about the event and think that it is just about raising money for children with cancer and blood disorders, but there is more to it.
“It’s really about supporting the families that have to deal with medical bills and other expenses involved with the illness. It’s a really unique event in that perspective," Arnold said.
Christina Bravo, the aunt of Lucas Files, a child in the Embrace Kids Foundation, said that the event is more important than the amount raised.
“It shows that they care about the families. It’s not just about the money. They show that they want to make personal connections," Bravo said.
Personal connections such as those made when Rutgers students visited her nephew during his chemotherapy.
“They came to play video games with Lucas when he was getting chemo. It meant a lot to him,” she said.
According to the Rutgers Dance Marathon website, more than 2,000 Rutgers students from a wide range of clubs and organizations come together to commit their time to the event every year, making it the largest student-run philanthropic event in New Jersey.
Since its revival in the Rutgers community in 1999, it has raised more than $6.9 million for the Embrace Kids Foundation.
“This is one of the best things that the Rutgers community does. We get so caught up in our own organizations with greek life and formals and athletics and practices and games. This is something that is so much bigger than yourselves and your organization. There’s a lot more in life out there and a lot of people have it worse than us and we have to come together for them. Everyone’s got to support each other and this is one of the big things (the) Rutgers community does. We all support each other," Perullo said.